Learn how to set up a small business computer network for your growing business from our step-by-step guide.
With the average data breach costing $4 million, the price of a damaged reputation lost customers, or lawsuits might be too much for your company to bear.
If you haven’t set up your small business computer network yet, you need to do so carefully enough to protect your data and your clientele. Following best practices and standards will ensure that you network succeeds and that your company thrives.
Here are seven steps for setting up your network.
1. Start With Your Admin
Your first step to setting up a network will be to create an administrator. You need at least one layer of access between your average user and those authorized to change your network settings and set up passwords.
You should have only one administrator account on your network. Rather than giving out multiple people the same access, this way you can keep leakage down to a minimum.
Make sure they keep close watch of the username and password. Add multiple roles beneath an administrator if you need something in between average users and high-level admin.
2. Get Some Hardware
In order to physically connect the computers on your network, you’ll need to get the hardware to do it. Obviously, you need lots of cables. While wireless can be more convenient, it’s often slower than an ethernet connection.
Wireless can also be subject to all kinds of interference and lapses in service. Wireless networking is useful in small offices that don’t push much more data than what can be found in an email between computers. If your demands are much larger than that, with video, audio, or large image files.
3. Set Up A Router
All of the wiring for your computers will come to a central location. This will be a hub or a switch that can connect your computers, however, it can also be a router. That is the device that manages your internet connection and sends it between computers.
In order for you to use the connection you get from the cable or phone company and keep it strong between devices, a router is necessary. Using a router instead of a hub means that you don’t have to compromise signal strength as you add more connections.
If you’re using a wireless router, you’ll notice that your signal strength will diminish the further away your devices are from the router. You’ll also find that your signal can be deflected or blocked by physical structures in the way.
Switches often rely on a single machine to share the connection between machines. If you choose a switch over a router, when the switching machine is turned off, other machines on the system won’t be able to connect to the internet.
Your router can also provide a layer a security that hubs can’t in order to keep unauthorized users away.
4. Set Up A Network OS
You’ll need to have a specific software network operating system in place to manage the traffic on your network. Thankfully, this kind of software is built directly into the average operating system.
You need to have user groups with shared folders and devices that everyone can have access to. You need an interface and an OS so that new users can get the hang of it easily. If your small business will have printers and scanners on your network, you need to put a network OS in place.
5. Organize Your Resources
Assign a workgroup to every computer on your system. If you have three machines connected to accounting, you can add them to a workgroup called “accounting”.
This will allow admins to go in and work on groups that share resources, software, and even a network hub together. Organizing your network’s resources makes troubleshooting and expanding your network a lot easier.
You want to also keep your teams isolated if they need different access to different parts of your server system. You need to manage who gets access to check in data or code. You should manage that data only moves in the direction that you’ve set it up to.
If you don’t want people in your “Advertising” group to have access to “Accounting”, you can give them all separate access.
6. Set Up Shared Resources
If you plan on doing printing or sending files between computers, you need to enable file and printer sharing on your network. This requires enabling it on each individual machine.
Each operating system or version thereof will require a different approach. If you need help, you can consult the help files found online or via tech support over the phone.
Once that’s enabled, you then bring your shared resource from the backup server it sits on to each machine. For printers and scanners, you may need to search for them with a tool available in your operating system. Computers in your workgroup will able to access these folders and resources immediately.
7. Set Up Your Firewall
A firewall is one of your most basic security elements to ensure you protect your small business. Most operating systems come with a built-in firewall as do several routers.
Make sure you first set up the standard firewalls that come with the systems you use. Then install another third-party firewall so that you can manage and monitor traffic. Your firewalls can keep nefarious actors out of your system before they can even connect to your network.
A Small Business Computer Network Brings In Profit
Your small business computer network needs to be well organized and well protected for your business to run efficiently. Even the slightest bumps in the road will lead to slow productivity, lost profit, or glitches that you can’t recover from.
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For more about what we can do to imporve your company’s cybersecurity, check out what we have to offer.